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ASAP nano letters 10.1021/nl073149i (2008)

Towards atomic-scale bright-field electron tomography for the study of fullerene-like nanostructures

by Maya Bar Sadan, Lothar Houben, Sharon G. Wolf, Andrey Enyashin, Gotthard Seifert, Reshef Tenne, and Knut Urban‡

We present the advancement of electron tomography for three-dimensional structure reconstruction of fullerene-like particles toward atomic-scale resolution. The three-dimensional reconstruction of nested molybdenum disulfide nanooctahedra is achieved by the combination of low voltage operation of the electron microscope with aberration-corrected phase contrast imaging. The method enables the study of defects and irregularities in the three-dimensional structure of individual fullerene-like particles on the scale of 2–3 Å.

Control over shape, size, and atomic architecture is a key issue in synthesis and design of functional nanoparticles. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is the primary technique to characterize materials down to the atomic level, albeit the images are two-dimensional projections of the studied objects. Recent advancements in aberration-corrected TEM have demonstrated single atom sensitivity for light elements at subångström resolution. Yet, the resolution of tomographic schemes for three-dimensional structure reconstruction has not surpassed 1 nm3, preventing it from becoming a powerful tool for characterization in the physical sciences on the atomic scale.

Here we demonstrate that negative spherical aberration imaging at low acceleration voltage enables tomography down to the atomic scale at reduced radiation damage. First experimental data on the three-dimensional reconstruction of nested molybdenum disulfide nanooctahedra is presented. The method is applicable to the analysis of the atomic architecture of a wide range of nanostructures where strong electron channeling is absent, in particular to carbon fullerenes and inorganic fullerenes.

Further reading: ASAP Nano Letters 10.1021/nl073149i (2008).
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